Finally Watching [Action Movies]

Let's talk hats

Postby Merciel » Sun Sep 19, 2021 10:05 pm

SVC handles the movie queue but sure, I'm up for whatever.
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Postby jalapeño ranch » Sun Sep 19, 2021 10:17 pm

Having trouble finding out if Ricochet has been reviewed but if not I'd like to submit that as well.

I would also like to submit nathan make the search work for posts that were made before 2020.
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Postby Merciel » Mon Sep 20, 2021 11:47 am

Streets of Fire (1984)

I do not like Walter Hill. I don't think I've liked a single one of his movies that we've watched for this thread, and all the ones I can remember at all, I remember only because I hated them. So it's not really a surprise that I think this movie sucks shit, but nevertheless it impressed me with how fascinatingly bad it is.

It's not universally bad. The stunts and special effects are totally decent-to-great. Diane Lane's first fake song is so good that I thought maybe it had been written and performed by some actually famous rock star (this turned out not to be true, but it's still a good song, well sung, by a team that could probably have gone full rock star if they'd put their minds to that instead of wasting their time and material on this shitty movie). It's only when the actors have to attempt performing Walter Hill's garbage screenplay, under his garbage direction, that the movie turns to soggy crap.

But boy does it ever do that!

It's really baffling how he got these performances out of a mostly decent cast, and also... why.

Like, I'm totally willing to believe that Michael Pare just sucks and that's why Wikipedia sums up his post-early '80s career with "the actor frequently appears in Uwe Boll's works" (there's a brutal epitaph to a young actor's once-bright hopes), but Diane Lane is normally good and Rick Moranis is totally solid in Ghostbusters and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, so seeing them behave this woodenly is really something else. You have to think Hill was just constantly bellowing "NO! MORE STILTED! MORE STIIIIILLLTTED!!" at these poor people.

The dialogue gives them no help either. It's so bad. It is so bad. Brutally unfunny, super sexist, total stinkbombs across the board.

Incidentally here is what Walter Hill's co-writer described as their intention for this movie:

During 48 Hours Gross said he thought that Hill had received "a bum rap on the woman question" over the years. "People think that he doesn't like women and he knows that's not true. I think that's going to be demonstrated even more clearly in his next films. He told me he's going to do this new thing: he's going to put a female character right in the centre of the narrative."


you just know when somebody puts that idea out there as "this new thing," the results are going to be absolutely amazing, and so they are

I don't care enough about this movie to go in on illustrative examples, so I'll just note that Michael Pare punches his ex-girlfriend really hard in the face as part of his big heroic moment. Also pretty much every female extra was transparently cast based on her boob size, except (somehow) for the stripper who flashes the camera repeatedly while gyrating atop a bar. Despite the fact that she pulls her shirt up to her chin repeatedly and you can see everything every time, and despite the fact that a whole bunch of people get beaten to a pulp and dragged behind motorcycles on screen, this is somehow a PG movie. I guess it's because nobody technically dies? I don't know.

Willem Dafoe somehow miraculously manages to not suck in this movie, even though his role is more ridiculous than anyone else's. Truly he is a great actor.

4/10, solely on the basis of the songs being pretty good and Dafoe being willing to give it his all in PVC waders
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Postby Merciel » Wed Sep 22, 2021 5:30 pm

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Honestly if my main example of "good humanity" was James Franco, I would probably also engineer an uprising of the apes.

This movie was... fine. The story makes a reasonable amount of sense and the CGI apes are pretty good. I'm never going to buy James Franco as a smart person though, and he's doubly miscast as a genius scientist who also has to carry most of the emotional weight of the film. So the first part kind of drags as it reaches for a level of pathos and gravity that is just never going to happen, partly because Franco's performance is totally unpersuasive and partly because this is a PG-13 movie that isn't willing to actually go in on the horrors of animal experimentation or even the grimness of most low-budget animal sanctuaries.

Once it kicks into action movie mode, things pick up, although it's still weirdly defanged (the good apes don't want to kill anybody! ever! and even the evil ape doesn't actually do any full-on murdering) and it is also extremely implausible how many apes join this uprising and how fast they do it. These guys just multiply like gremlins under a sprinkler every time the camera cuts away. First there are 20 apes, then there are 60, now it's 200, and they are all magically smart even though the last 140 apes or so just got liberated from a zoo five minutes ago and there was no superintelligence virus serum in sight.

But whatever, this movie was considerably less stupid than I feared it might be. Props to the screenwriters for doing a pretty good job with a totally ridiculous premise.

6.5/10
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Postby Jefferson Zeppelin » Wed Sep 22, 2021 10:59 pm

uhhh, the movie, or the planet?
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Postby Jefferson Zeppelin » Wed Sep 22, 2021 11:01 pm

one of the greatest Simpsons bits ever
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Sep 23, 2021 12:22 am

It's a decent enough remake but they should've kept the songs.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Sep 23, 2021 12:23 am

Anyone ever make that joke?
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Postby Jefferson Zeppelin » Thu Sep 23, 2021 12:27 am

it's the part I was born to play
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Postby Merciel » Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:14 pm

I think we made it like fifteen minutes into the movie before I started asking SVC whether we could just watch that Simpsons episode instead.

He refused this suggestion.
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Postby Merciel » Thu Sep 23, 2021 10:29 pm

eXistenZ (1999)

Well, now I know where "Ted Pikul" comes from.

The subliminal fears of the late '90s were really something, in retrospect. People were afraid of computers getting too smart, and fooling them by sucking them into false realities instead of just brute-force bombing them to death like in Terminator. Gone are the Cold War anxieties of having our hyperdeveloped computer-guided military turned against us, and nukes obliterating the earth. Now the terror is all about machines becoming smart enough to trick us, and slacker directionlessness lulling people into either seeking a purpose for their life in games (as Willem Dafoe's Gas claims to have done), or simply not caring that they're living in a netherworld because "nothing is happening here. Wouldn't you rather be there?"

Obviously The Matrix did all that stuff a lot better, but eXistenZ is still pretty good at evoking the more limited and specific thing that it's trying to do, which is just create this creepy squishy off-kilter surreality that encompasses the real world, and the game world, and the "real world." You never know which of them is truly real. Probably the answer is "none of them." It's not a very satisfying answer, narratively, but it's the only one this movie was ever going to be willing to give.

I really liked the bone gun and the creepiness of Jude Law's "special" meal while putting it together. I didn't really love that being a "Chinese Restaurant" gag, but whatever. I wonder what he actually had to eat while he was doing it. As best I could tell, it was glutinous rice dough (like mochi skin, but wetter), but the props department did a hell of a job making it look alien.

The Trout Farm was also great, I loved that shit. There's so much attention and care poured into every one of those squirming little vermin bodies.

I spent a while complaining that there was no way that gun, firing human teeth, would do anything remotely like the damage it was depicted as inflicting, but then all those shots turned out to be inside a video game world so I guess that's fair enough.

Other than Willem Dafoe (how is he always so good doing such a variety of random-ass movies?!) and the characters who were deliberately supposed to be weird, I didn't get much out of the performances on this one. I never really like Jennifer Jason Leigh, and she did not do much to shift my opinion here. Also all the action bits were just comically bad, which might have been on purpose for some of them, but I dunno if I want to believe that they were all supposed to be that bad.

Still, it's rare enough for movies to show me something genuinely bizarre and idea-provoking that I'm not going to complain too much about the weaknesses in other parts. Even if the only parts I totally unreservedly loved were the Trout Farm and the bone gun, that's still better than a lot of other things we've watched in this thread.

7.5/10
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Postby baleen » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:06 pm

i'm glad you liked eXistenZ. yeah a lot of the performances are weird Jude Law basically seems game for what he's doing. I get the same take on Leigh - she's in a lot and I'm always...well, okay, that performance was on screen.

enough fun sequences, weird gross outs, orifices, and Don McKellar to be a Cronenberg Classic.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:07 pm

I'm also supposed to watch eXistenZ.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:31 pm

Granting that most pre-Viggo Cronenberg deals with the same set of preoccupations (natural vs. artificial, organic vs. inorganic, real vs. illusory, the seductiveness of technology, what else can a human be?), this one feels especially derivative of Videodrome. It doesn't help that he's clearly less familiar with video games than he is with television, or that the horror element is largely missing. Still it's pretty fun and ultimately there aren't that many other Cronenberg movies.

I enjoyed the performances. Jennifer Jason Leigh is probably my favorite actress and I agree that she's as good as she usually is. Jude Law is on shakier ground but it's a charming performance on the whole. It's funny how they make him look like just a normal good-looking person for the first bit by combing his hair stupidly and making sure he never smiles.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:33 pm

They are both really first-rate smilers, JL and JJL.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:40 pm

I'm still a novice but he seems really into the embodied mind and fear of contamination so the one where you play Quake by plugging a spleen into your navel is interesting to me.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:41 pm

And before KevMac comes in here to say it actually plugs into an extra asshole on your back or whatever I'm sorry but I'm just not that detail-oriented, except at work.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:44 pm

I never played Quake but I don't think they're playing Quake.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:45 pm

I think they're playing Myst actually.
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Postby Jeremy » Thu Sep 23, 2021 11:49 pm

Well if there's no rocketjumping in this David Cronenberg meditation on whatever then I'm out.
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Postby traced out » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:16 am

the best dream i ever had i was strafejumping through an endless sky at several hundred miles an hour, landing and launching off little platforms that appeared over the horizon

Merciel wrote:Still, it's rare enough for movies to show me something genuinely bizarre and idea-provoking that I'm not going to complain too much about the weaknesses in other parts.

yeah, that's the cronenberg

i also thought it was a videodrome derivative when i was watching it but in retrospect it's probably a more fun movie, for what it's worth.
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